The L.A. City Council repealed its own pot shop ban today. Woo-hoo!?
Facing the choice of letting you vote on overturning the ban or doing so itself following a referendum effort that turned in almost double the number of signatures needed to bring the issue to the ballot, the body stuck its tail between its legs and said smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Today's vote ...
... followed years of attempts by the council to regulate the city's pot shop scene, the largest in the nation.
By the city's own count there are more than 1,000 marijuana retailers, although a recent UCLA study put the number at 472.
According to City News Service:
Council members, in voting to repeal the law, said it was time to go back to the drawing board on regulating the city's nearly 1,000 pot shops. They also vowed to ask state legislators to clarify state law on how cities can regulate dispensaries.
The referendum to overturn the ban forced the council to either let you vote or kill its own attempt at snuffing out the retailers, but there's still a chance dispensaries could die off:
The federal government is threatening to put L.A.'s medical cannabis scene out of business and has already targeted all shops downtown and in Eagle Rock.
[Added at 1:12 p.m.]: Kris Hermes, spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, found out about the repeal from the Weekly. "That's great news," he said, adding:
We're pleased that the city is not going to put us through months of arduous enforcement. Enforcement issue is still a big question, however, especially with the involvement of the federal government.
... We welcome the opportunity to work with the city on sensible regulations that will work for patients and the communities.
[Added at 2:16 p.m.]: The 11-2 vote will have to be finalized next week, but given the numbers it looks good to go.
Councilman Jose Huizar, who spearheaded the ban, and Councilman Joe Buscaino voted against the repeal.
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Westside rep Bill Rosendahl made quashing the prohibition a personal matter, noting that he's been using marijuana to quell pain suffered as a result of his cancer treatments. He said (via LA Biz Observed):
If I can't get medical marijuana ... what do I do?
Huizar, however, tried to have the last laugh, noting (via the Los Angeles Times) that a federal crackdown might accomplish what he could not: "That is our relief," he said.